Chapter 1: Wings
“Why are you sending me to boarding school, again?” I scowled in the passenger seat of my mother’s Volkswagen.
“Kayla. You know as well as I do this school will benefit for you in every way.”
“But Mu-mm!” I whined. “It’s going to be so weird and so different! Why did I ever have to leave primary school?”
“Because that’s how the education system works in this country.” said my mother, matter-of-fact-ly.
“Well, it’s stupid.”
“Maybe when you become Prime Minister you can change it.” she shrugged.
I blew up at my marmite hair. What were my parents thinking, packing up my things and abandoning me? This was crazy… even for them.
“Maybe you wouldn’t be feeling so negative if you actually went to the open day.”
“Maybe if you saw what it was really like, you’d be exited.”
I had managed to scramble out of open day, thanks to a plane delay stranding me in Europe for two weeks. Such a terrible shame!
My mother turned the car into a narrow driveway, with empty, green fields either side.
“This is it!” she said cheerily. Further along the driveway, the edges of the fields were lined with slim, tall trees the colour of toads. The fields were now host to a collection of horses, brown ones, grey ones, white ones, patchy ones…
Finally we pulled into a car park based with grey pebbles. “Are you exited?”
I gave my mother an exasperated look. She just chuckled and opened her door.
“St Charles is just a school. Not a prison. Now go; or you’ll be late.” she gave me a gentle nudge as if to usher me along. I took the handle of my blue suitcase. And then, I ran. And ran.
“See you in six weeks!” I just heard my mother yell.
“Say hi to Dad for me! And Grandma!”
The main school building, a bleak brown colour, was about four stories high (judging from the miniscule windows at the front) and streaks of poison ivy had climbed up to the very top. It loomed above me like a pouncing lion.
The frosty September breeze touched my cheeks with its freezing hands. I shut my eyes tightly and shook it off… and opened them to something amazing. Something crazy. Something that would change my life.
Simply enough, it was a stone statue. Nothing particularly remarkable, but something about it made me come closer. It was planted right outside the main building, guarded by a round, stone ring. But I wasn’t paying any attention to that – but the statue itself. It was of an angel; curly, golden locks and snow white wings. The stone wasn’t actually golden or white, of course – it was grey -, but it was so carefully detailed for a seccond I swear, I could practically see the colours. Her face, a mixture of fear and wonder, was made up of a thin nose, a mouth slightly turned up at th corners and big eyes.
I blinked. Before, St Charles had looked like a prison. And now, it could put Buckingham Palace to shame. I was now looking at the rest of it with rose-tinted spectacles: everything was now slightly more… majestic?
“Ehem?” sharply cut through the air, dragging me out of my daydream. I turned to see an elderly, business-like woman, with black glasses and extremely curly, (probably died) blonde hair, who had appeared at the entrance to the main building. She wore a red pencil skirt, green blouse and silky black blazer.
“Would you, by any chance be Miss Kayla Jeffery?”
I whimpered a yes.
“Well, may I point out you should have been in lessons half an hour ago?” she growled, with a sarcastic hint of pleasantness. “Come with me, and I’ll take you to lessons.”
We set of down along, red corridor lined either side with chestnut doors.
“This is your time table.” said the woman, handing me a piece of paper that I didn’t bother to look at, just stuffed in my skirt pocket. ”Your first lesson is PCV.”
“PCV?” I parroted.
“Yes, we do sport everyday here.”
“I’ve never heard of that. What does it mean? I mean, what does it abbreviate?”
“Penna caballus veho.” She rolled her eyes. “It’s Latin.”
I glanced back up at her, and noticed something I hadn’t before. She had horns.
Kind of like a goat’s – they sloped forwards and looped back around multiple times. I looked away quickly, before she noticed me gawking. Even though this was my first day, I wasn’t sure she’d let anything else slip by so easily.
Eventually, we came to the end of the corridor; a black door. Outside was nothing but a huge, grass field.
“PCV is just there.” She pointed to a group of children… Possibly on horseback.
“Wait… if this is sport, do I need to change?” I peered down at my uniform: A red and green tartan, knee-length skirt, navy blue jacket and red hooded cloak.
“No, just leave your suitcase where everyone else has and hurry up!”
“Yes Miss!” I squeaked, setting off before I had finished.
The rest of my class were definitely on horseback – from what I could see now, there was about ten of them there – plus a teacher who had started trotting over to meet me half way. She (they appeared female) was on a dark golden horse, and had waved and came closer.
I could see her more clearly, and – “Whoa.” I breathed. From what I could see, it wasn’t a horse. She was a centaur, a horse’s body and human’s torso and head. And, her horse part had wings.
“Hi there! Kayla, isn’t it?”
“S-sorry I’m late.” was all I could manage.
“Nah, it’s expected. Hey, sorry, but are you a… homo sapien?”
“You’re a centaur!” I couldn’t hold my amazement(slash)terror in anymore.
The centaur just laughed. “I guess you are. I’m Miss Coyne.”
We walked closer towards the other group, and my eyes widened to see the horses the children were riding were winged, also.
“Okay.” But the words choked in my throat.
“You know what we’re doing, right? Riding pegasi; right?”
Say what?! “Okay.”
“I’m just going to assume you can already ride a normal horse, and move straight on to flying.”
“Stop saying okay!” Miss Coyne joked.
“Oka- alright.” I looked up at Miss Coyne. Besides being a centaur with wings, she had short dark hair and a contagious smile. She seemed happy and bright – nothing like the woman I had met outside the fountain, with horns.
We had reached the others. “Okay,” She looked at me and winked, “We’re going to start flight now.”
Most people cheered, and I looked up at them. The amazement didn’t stop here, if you were wondering. From what I could see, there was an angel, a floating set of clothes, a girl with blue skin, a boy covered in fur…
“This is Kayla.” Murmurs erupted from the crowd. I picked up the phrase ‘homo sapien’ a number of times.
“Hi.” I said awkwardly.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, slow down.” The angel, kicked one led over her pegasus and flapped her white wings from sitting side-saddle so she was hovering in front of me. She had an urban, rebellious attitude that made me realise straight away; this angel was far from angelic.
She had shoulder-length straight hair, blonde and shiny, plus crystal blue eyes that shimmered innocently.
“Is she a…”
Miss Coyne sighed, “She is, Savannah.”
“Um, sorry, but…”
“Savannah, please get back on your pegasus.”
She grunted and flew back.
The next thing I knew, I was sitting on a fully tacked, tawny pegasus, not even wearing a helmet. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing, but a friend from my old school had ridden horses, and I had seen her doing so before. Maybe if I applied the techniques…
Before I had thought it through, I had given the pegasus a gentle nudge in the hind-quarters, and it sprang into the air.
Very very high into the air.
At first, it was brilliant. I could see so much from up here, the fields, the trees, the statue…
And then I realised I had absolutely no control over the vessel. I screamed, spooked the pegasus who bucked, and I lost my footing with the stirrups and the reins were ripped out of my fingers.
So there I was; plummeting to my doom, listening to the air whistle past my ears, waiting to hit the ground when I’d wake up in my own bedroom, about to start Senior school.
Pale arms caught me under the shoulders and blue eyes glistened down at me. It was the angel, obviously.
“Savannah Birch.” She titled herself authentically, “And you can thank me later.”
PCV, eh? And there was me thinking I’d be behind in maths.
Chapter 2 – Scales
Following from the pegasus incident, Savannah had taken me under her wing (ha ha, get it?). She’d explained the ‘system’: She was an HA – Homo atypical – a race of completely unique individuals living aware of our society. but I was an HS – Homo Sapien – a race of similar individuals living completely ignorant to her society.
“I still don’t understand how you got here.”
“No. No, neither do I.”
“Sorry, I realise this’ll be kinda mind blowing…” Savannah chuckled.
“Anyway, what’s your next lesson?” Savannah cut in. I blinked at her casualness.
“Um, maths. In Maths 7.”
“Lucky you!” Looking back, I realise she was being sarcastic. But then, I was so relieved to be doing something I had done at home, I looked at it and said:
“Yeah, I know!”
Savannah raised an eyebrow, “Okay, you need to go down that corridor, turn left at the junction, and it’s the eighth door on your right.”
“Wow… you seem to know your way around.” I remarked.
“Yeah – I went to St Charles Primary. We went here for trips, workshops, tournaments all the time.”
“I see. Bye, Savannah!”
“Bye Kayla!” I suddenly grasped the fact that our two societies must be extremely alike; scarily alike, actually.
So I set down this corridor of monsters, giants, fairies, centaurs and much, much more.
“Kayla Jeffrey?” asked a stern, old woman with four huge glossy eyes.
“Yes.” I burst through the door, just in time to answer my name. The woman wrote something in what was probably a register, without looking at me, but I felt pairs of eyes from the rest of my class burn through my skin as I sat down at the back. Here, I guess I was noteworthy and extraordinary for being normal.
“Juliet Mayre?” There was no answer.
“Juliet Mayre?” Still nothing. The woman finally looked up, fixing her eyes on me. I dug my teeth into my lip in attempt to ignore my anxiousness .
“Yes, yes, sorry…” The door swung open and there stood a girl, panting. Hey, she looked… normal. Maybe I wasn’t alone in this completely impossible new place.
She tucked a strand up light brown hair behind her ear to reveal a patch of emerald green scales on her temple. Nope.
“Never mind… just sit down.” The woman sighed frustratedly.
The girl did, in the one spare seat – the one next to me.
Of course, within thirty seconds of her sitting down, I caught her eye in the way I had done everyone else’s. “Excuse me? Um, are you a – um – homo sapien?”
I sighed, “Apparently.” She didn’t look shocked or afraid, just confused. “Yeah, I don’t understand it either.”
“Your lip’s bleeding.”
“Oh, right.” I licked it casually.
The girl let out a tiny laugh and smiled. “I’m Juliet.”
“Kayla.” Yay, two friends already. Or, maybe they were just acquaintances – but I’m happy to refer to them as friends.
“Girls at the back, would you mind repeating what I have just told the rest of the class?” asked the teacher, blinking at us repeatedly.
“Um, your name’s Mrs Eir, we’re doing a maths assessment to determine what groups we’re in for the rest of the term, there are three sets: top, middle and bottom and three groups do maths simultaneously, so we may be moved into different classrooms or get different teachers and if we finish early, the library is just round the corner.” Juliet smiled.
“Mm.” Mrs Eir nodded, lips pressed together, looking back at her register awkwardly. “I’m going to give these papers out. I hope I don’t need to remind you not to copy.” she said coldly.
I despised maths, but the test wasn’t too hard – I couldn’t say I aced it, but it wasn’t too hard. I had about fifteen minutes left, so I walked round to the library.
The library was amazing – the floor was made up of red and green and mosaic squares arranged alternatively in a six-pointed star with a white mosaic background. The bookshelves were made of dark oak, carved around the sides and the smell of wood filled the room.
Juliet smiled at me from a chair in the corner, letting go of one side of a book to beckon me over.
“Hi, Kayla. How did you find the test?”
“It was okay… you?”
“Pretty easy.” she shrugged.
“You seem pretty intelligent, though. You practically recorded what that woman was saying in your mind even though you were having a conversation with me – or is that something all Homo Atypicals can do?”
She laughed, “No. So you know about HAs and HSs, do you? How?”
“This girl I met in first period explained it to me. Do you know anyone called Savannah Birch?”
Juliet opened her mouth and smirked. Her face was both shocked and amused at the same time. “Yeah. Oh, Savannah meeting a Homo Sapien! I’d like to have been there. Did you get on well?”
“Yes and no.” I answered. “Are you two friends?”
“Pretty close friends, even though we both have very strong, different personalities.” She stopped to laugh again, “No, she’s great. I apologise for any wrong first impressions.”
Chapter 3 – Fur
“Hi Kayla! I see you’ve met Juliet.” Savannah beamed, “How was maths?”
“Just okay?” she teased.
“Yeah, just okay.” I replied coldly, “Does anyone have…” I unfolded my time-table to check, “Biology next?”
“Nope. History.” said Savannah.
“Aww yeah! Grammar!” Juliet punched the air triumphantly. “But I don’t have biology.”
“Wow. Hard core, Juliet, real hard core.” said a boy next to Savannah with brown fur covering most of his skin, excluding face, and dog ears on the top of his head. Around his neck and head was his own personal scarf of shaggy brown fur. He had a small frame, although he looked sort of wolf-like. “And I have biology next, too.” He smiled at me.
“Cool. Are you a… werewolf?”
The boy met Savannah and Juliet’s eyes and they burst in to fits of hysterical laughter.
“S-sorry, I haven’t introduced you. Kayla, this is Daniel.” Savannah explained.
“Not a werewolf.” Juliet added.
“Daniel, this is Kayla.”
“She’s a homo sapien.”
“Yeah, I know. I was there when Savannah flew up to her and asked her straight up if she was.”
Juliet nudged Savannah in the arm, “Savie!” she nagged.
“What?” she rubbed her shoulder innocently, and her blue eyes sparkled angelically.
“Don’t give me the eyes, Savannah, you know they don’t work…” she paused, entranced. “Dang it, you kill me with those eyes.”
Savannah gave a high pitched giggled with her hand over her mouth.
“That was inconsiderate and rude, Savannah.” Juliet said firmly, but Savannah opened her eyes wider, and Juliet shielded her face with an arm. “Not looking, not looking…”
“We should go to biology.” Daniel said, blinking at them.
“Yeah. Which way?”
“Follow me.” He beckoned me with a slightly fuzzy, but otherwise normal hand. “So,” he whispered when we were out of earshot, “What do you think of those two?”
“Utter weirdoes? Don’t get me wrong, they’re my friends, but… I was there when you met Savannah. Juliet’s a bit of a know-it-all, don’t you think?”
I laughed, “She definitely seems to know her stuff.”
“Savour this moment, Kayla; because once she’s known you for a while, she never stops correcting you on anything. She won’t do it to you now, because you’re new, but give it a week.”
“Oh, thanks for the heads up.” I smiled.
“No, but you won’t find anyone as empathetic or generous as her, trust me. She may be seriously annoying at times, but you need her around.” Daniel said, in a ‘trust me, I know’ kind of way.
“And by the way,” I said, “What are you, if not a werewolf?”
“I’m part wolf. The genetics are complicated, but basically I evolved from the same thing wolves did.”
I nodded. “Is this it?” I asked, pointing to a white-wash door labelled ‘Science 3’.
“Aye.” Daniel nodded turning and looking around the room.
It had a turquoise floor and painted white walls that seriously needed an extra coat. Wooden benches with sinks and plug sockets sat in rows.
I sat down next to Daniel, who stared up at the pictures of animals on the display wall.
“Hi class, and welcome to Biology. I’m Miss Cameron. I really hope you enjoy this term – we’re going to be doing so many fun things.” A red-haired woman with wings, like a dragonfly’s, stepped into the classroom and went to the front desk. “To start off today, I thought you might want to see some of the animals we have at school.”
Later, and we were crowded around a wooden box containing vegetation and sawdust.
“Hmm. Well, he doesn’t seem to want to come out much.” remarked Miss Cameron.
“Let me try.” Daniel said purposefully.
“Um, okay…” Miss Cameron looked taken aback slightly, but she backed away from the box to make room for Daniel.
“Hey. How’re you doing, bro? You, um, you wanna come out and show everyone yourself? I’m sure you’re beautiful. We won’t hurt you.” he whispered softly. Everyone else looked slightly freaked out. “There you are!” he exclaimed as a bright green nose edged its way out of a nest. “Keep coming, bro. You’ve so got this.” And the nose was followed by a head, then a neck, then the most vibrant green body of a snake I’d ever seen.
“Uh, does he normally do that?” our teacher asked nobody in particular.
“He’s out, Miss.” Daniel beamed proudly.
“Thanks, Daniel, I can see that.”
“Lunch! Finally!” Daniel punched the air with the kind of vigour you wouldn’t think was expressible by someone that spoke that gently to a snake.
“I’m starving.” I admitted. “Where’s the dining hall?”
“Just down here. Hey, Kayla, do you know how you got here?”
“I haven’t the foggiest hint of an idea.”
“Oh, well, I guess we could check the library, in case you wanted to do some research?”
“That sound good, but not right now. I can’t think of anything but food at the moment.” I nodded.
“The dining hall it is!” Daniel said perkily. “I think you should check the library soon, though. I have a feeling we’ll find something pretty interesting.”
Chapter 4 – Eyes
We did, but it wouldn’t be for a while. After lunch (I just had macaroni cheese and fruit salad. Remarkably similar.) I trekked down to my next lesson: Geography. Well, this should be interesting…
I knew that I didn’t have this with Daniel; he had told me so, being the one person I’d had lunch with. He’d shown me the way and taken off, and I had come to a wooden cabin with a few windows. Inside, a few others that looked my age sat around two-person desk. A world map was hung on the wall, looking exactly like the ones we had at home.
There was a message on the whiteboard at the end of the classroom. It read:
‘Year 7 Geography – please sit quietly – I will be with you soon’.
Sit quietly? To a bunch of excited, unsupervised kids? Ha, no!
I sat down in an empty desk, hoping I hadn’t caught anyone’s attention. Everyone was too caught up in there immaturity.
The door creaked open to let in a girl whom the room went quiet for. She was really pretty, with curly blonde hair that bounced when she walked. But the colour and the elastic quality weren’t too noticeable. Out of her hair, purple and blue flowers bloomed. Their green stalked intertwined around odd locks and she smiled sweetly at everyone, as if she expected them to stare at her.
“Hi Wisteria!” a girl huge multicoloured eyes waved. “Sit next to me?”
I sniggered. Wisteria was a pretty name, but for someone like that it was just plain unfortunate.
The two of them glared at me. “Sorry Annie – Aaron’s in this class.”
Annie giggled and nodded, “Okay then.” She winked.
Again, the door opened and a boy with pitch black hair but paper-white skin entered.
“Hey Aaron!” Wisteria smiled, “Do you… want to sit next to me?”
I just noticed his pupils shrink a little, and he shuffled over to my desk.
“S-sorry Wisteria, but, I, uh, promised…” he stared at me expectantly.
“Kayla.” I whispered.
“KAYLA I’d sit next to her.” He smirked awkwardly. Wisteria held a look of shock and hurt on her face for a while, but then walked away and sat next to the girl who first offered.
I looked up at him with one eyebrow up. He laughed and settled down next to me. “Sorry about that.” he said.
“It’s cool.” I shrugged, “Are you intimidated by her?”
“What? No way! She’s really weird.”
“She likes you.” I met his eyes. They were this cold grey that you could only fully appreciate up-close. For a moment it felt like they were piercing through mine and probably shooting out through the back of my head, pinning me to the wall.
He blinked, looking away. “Sorry, that happens a lot. I’m Aaron, FYI. And I know she does, Kayla.”
“Right, well I think I know the answer to this; but are you an HS?”
He shook his head. “But you are, aren’t you?”
I nodded, “How d’you know?”
“It gets around. No, I’m not. Watch.” He stretched out his white hand above the desk, and lowered it. I gasped as it fell straight through.
“You’re a… ghost?”
Aaron rolled his eyes, “Actually, I’m a phantom.”
“There’s a difference?”
He laughed. “You’re cool, Kayla. Out of interest, have you met anyone else here yet?”
“Yeah. Three, actually.”
“Uh, there’s Savannah, Juliet and Daniel.”
“Oh, they’re my best friends.” He smiled at just the mention of them, “But as for Daniel: don’t believe a single word that comes out of his mouth. He’s crazy, got that?”
“He’s also slightly obsessed with animals. Did you pick anything like that up?”
“Um, he managed to coax a snake out of its habitat in Biology.”
“Oh yeah, it’s really creepy… but he’s awesome. We’re, as he would put it, bros.”
I giggled, feeling Wisteria’s eyes burn me.
“Hi, class, thanks for being so sensible while you were waiting for me.” A tall man with greying brown hair and glasses strode up to the front of the classroom, and began to rub the message off the board. ‘You don’t know the half of it,’ I thought, smirking. His face was also stone grey. “I’m Mr Carver. First, we’re going to start off by naming countries and continents.” A world map was projected onto the board. “Let’s start with… this one. He pointed to what I knew to be France, but I didn’t put my hand up (like pretty much everyone else) in case they called it something different here.
“Yes, you?” he pointed to some kid in the front row with no distinguishable features from the back.
“That’s right.” Oh. “Now, let’s try something harder… he looked around, pausing on an outline of a country somewhere in Africa. “This one?”
The one hand up was Aaron’s. “Ghana.”
“Very good, young man! What’s your name?” Mr Carver beamed.
He nodded and moved on.
“How did you know that?” I whispered.
“I used to do a lot of travelling with my parents.” he shrugged, going a little quiet.
Chapter 5 – Hooves
“Whatcha got now?” Aaron asked, packing up his things. We’d just finished Geography,` and I don’t think there was one question Aaron couldn’t answer.
“Physics. Two sciences together, split up by lunch and Geography?” I frowned.
“Ha, like that’s the most bizarre thing that’s happened to you all day.” Aaron smiled understandingly. I returned the gaze, and his eyes charged right through mine again. Except this time, I didn’t want to move them. Not in the least.
“Aaron?” cut through the air, sharply. We both jumped. I felt my cheeks turn an unearthly red, but we laughed it off.
“Yeah?” Aaron chuckled, turning around.
“What’ve you got next?” It was Wisteria.
“Oh, I have Art. Shame.”
“Uh, yeah…” he said darkly. “Kayla, Physics is near Bio. Do you remember the way?”
“I think so.”
“Later, Kayla.” We waved goodbye.
Science 4, I read. This must be it.
I heard a free, somewhat contagious laugh. I looked up to see yet another centaur waving goodbye to the back of a head with a patch of scales and light brown hair as it ran up the corridor. Juliet.
“Hi!” the centaur smiled at me. She had freckles, long blond hair pulled into two messy plaits with strands escaping here and there. This centaur was my age, and despite having a blonde horse’s body tailing behind her (tailing, get it? Okay, enough with the HA puns), she was about my height. She seemed (slightly over) friendly, and despite never meeting me before, held the door open for me and smiled brightly.
“Thanks.” I whispered.
“No problem.” Then, suddenly launching into conversation, “I’m Eliza. What’s your name?”
“Kayla.” The architectural plan for this classroom was extremely similar to that of Biology. I sat on a stool with nothing next to it, which was fortunate for Eliza who obviously couldn’t use a stool. She just stood on her spindly legs and looked perfectly relaxed. “I, uh, saw you were talking to Juliet.”
“Yeah. Do you know her?”
“A little.” I shrugged.
“Cool. Who else?”
I then basically recited everyone I’d met so far. Then I paused, “Well, what?”
“You’re not going to… dish the dirt on them then?”
“Why would I do that? They’re my best friends, actually.”
“I dunno. It’s what they all did.”
Eliza didn’t even look disappointed in them. She just laughed, her emerald eyes sparkling and shook her head. “Don’t ask me why they did that.”
I smiled. It occurred to me then, even before I knew her properly, that Eliza was the greatest, kindest person you could ever meet.
Still laughing, she looked at me and said, “Well, I’ll give you some positives if you like.”
“Okay, well… Daniel is funny, optimistic and has this impeccable way with animals, Savannah is the right balance between sparky and sensitive, Juliet is wise beyond her years… I think she’s kind of a genius, and Aaron… he’s interesting, experienced and between you and me,” she raised a hand to the side of her mouth and began to whisper, “He’s got girls ALL over him.”
I laughed, “Oh, I gathered.”
Seconds later, our teacher (male, bald, had fangs – apparently not a vampire) walked in. We were starting of the year with work on The Solar System. First, he talked us through the planets.
“Now I’m sure you all know the first planet from the Sun?”
I assumed it was Mercury but, like in Geography, didn’t pipe up in case it was different. But, like in Geography, it wasn’t.
“Mercury is exactly how many miles from the Sun at closest? Anyone?”
“Oh!” Eliza’s hand shot up, “28.6 million miles.”
“And 46 million km.”
“Thank you. That will be enough.”
I looked at her in awe, “So, Juliet’s the genius, you say?”
Eliza shrugged, “Hey, I major in astronomy and nothing else.” She blushed, her freckles highlighted by the red.
Eliza stretched as we made our way out of Science. “Just one more lesson to go.” She yawned. “But first we have break! Yay, food!”
“I have… Social Education now. And you?”
“Same thing.” We only had to trek for a few seconds before we reached the dining hall.
“Hey, Lizzie! Hey, Kayla!” called Savannah from above us.
We waved up at her as we dumped our bags outside, and then stood at the back of the growing break queue outside.
“So Eliza, I see you’ve met Kayla.” Savannah swooped down to stand next to us. “She’s a homo sapien.”
“Thanks for that, Savie.” Eliza nodded dismissively. I admired the way it didn’t matter to her.
“Kayla, this is Eliza. She’s an eleven-yearling.” Savannah joked.
“Right. Funny. Compare me to a horse once again and I’m going to kick you into that wall.” Eliza smiled sweetly.
“Hey!” Juliet called with Daniel by her side. “Hi, Kayla!”
I waved as they caught up.
“Aww, man what is it for break? I’m starving.” Daniel complained.
“Ditto.” Eliza whimpered.
“Ugh, do you two ever think about anything but food?” Juliet demanded.
Eliza and Daniel looked at each other, then at Juliet, and together, said earnestly: “No.”
We laughed. “Where’s Aaron?” asked Savannah.
“Don’t ask me. Is he already inside?”
During break we didn’t source Aaron from anywhere, but it turned out the whole year had Social Education, and as we walked up to the classrooms, he appeared behind us. “Hey guys.”
“Hi Aaron! Where’ve you been?” Juliet enquired.
“Dr Bowyer kept us pretty late. Oh, hi Kayla.”
I looked back at him, “Hi.” Once again, our eyes met and his shot bullets through mine, or so it seemed. This time, I had to look away.
“Oh, dang, I’m so sorry.” He approached me.
“It’s okay…” I smiled at the ground.
“Oooh, Aaron look who’s coming!” Savannah broke the awkward silence and pointed past where we were standing.
Aaron turned. His stone eyes narrowed to see a blonde girl with flowers growing out of her hair walking towards us, in deep conversation with her friend from Geography. “Oh, darn! I’m gonna hide somewhere. Don’t tell her I was here.” And he disappeared into the science block.
“Bye!” I smiled.
“Oh, wow, I SWEAR I just saw sparks.” Daniel smiled discreetly.
“Kay-la Jeff-err-y.” Savannah pronounced each syllable separately.
“What?” I asked casually.
“You know what!” Juliet teased.
“Hey, Kayla, right?” asked an airy voice.
“Well, well, well… looked what the cat dragged in.” Savannah folded her arms.
“Savannah.” Wisteria spat out the word.
“Her majesty.” Savannah replied coolly. Eliza and Juliet grinned at each other.
Wisteria balled her fists, but glided past Savannah and up to me. “So, you a homo sapien?”
Savannah was hovering behind her, motioning to me, pounding her fist into her palm.
“How are you even here?” she snapped. I shrugged. “And don’t think Aaro-”
She was about to say ‘Aaron’, but as soon as Savannah’s ears picked up the beginning of his name she dived between us and smirked. “Oh, wow, Aaron has something to do with this! Man, who would have guessed.”
“Shut up, Savannah.”
“No, nope, there’s totally something flowering between you two.”
“Ha! Flowering, because… ha!” Daniel laughed. Nobody joined him.
“Whatever. You know, I can’t wait for the day he stops hanging out with you losers.”
Eliza laughed at her statement. “S-sorry… that just sounds so…” she squinted.
“Hey, where’s your little friend?” Savannah asked.
“Annie went the other way round. So I could see which way was quicker.”
“Little friend or little slave?” Juliet frowned, disgusted.
“Look, just because she does things for me does NOT make her my slave.”
Savannah opened her mouth, as if about to make a point, but then covered her face with her hand and faked a sneeze. “Ugh, sorry, hay fever.”
Daniel fist-bumped her, looking pleased. “Man, Aaron’s gonna wish he was here for this.”
“Yeah but, is he really?” Savannah shook her head.
Chapter 6 – Enforced Bonding
“The heck is this?” Daniel asked when we got to Social Education.
“Well…” Juliet began. We were sat in tables of six, and even though the teacher (Miss Wright – I think she was a fawn) had told us to mingle with different people, I bet you can guess which other five I sat with. The whole year was split into four different classes, and luckily we were all together. “No, I actually don’t have an explanation.” She shook her head. Our task was to mingle, socialize, get to know the people we’d be sharing a year with. Nobody looked all that enthusiastic, to be perfectly honest.
“Then we should be worried.” Savannah said darkly, and Juliet smiled.
“Meh, it’s just teachers saying, you WILL share your life experience and hopes, dreams and ambitions.” Eliza said in a dry, instructive and firm accent. “You know, like, enforced bonding.”
“Sure.” Aaron nodded, his black eyes laughing.
“Enforced bonding. That’s cute.”
“Hello class! Welcome to Social Studies. First of all, I need to know how many of you went to St Charles Junior.”
Daniel, Eliza, Juliet and Aaron held up their hands. I looked sideways at Savannah, who hissed, “Daniel, Juliet, hands down.”
“What?” Daniel asked, but did it anyway.
“I think we’re going to be moved depending on this.”
“Oh, gotcha.” He nodded, smiling.
“Okay…” Miss Wright looked over a few tables, but went straight past ours.
“Genius.” Savannah grinned. “And we pretend to not know each other.”
“Now, I want you just to introduce yourselves, talk a little bit about that.”
“Okay, shot gun first!” Juliet said quickly. We looked at her intently, and she thought for a moment then said, “Hi, my name is Juliet, and I like… um, reading, science and maths.”
“Hi Juliet!” Savannah beamed, “And I’m SURE you’re not geekily obsessed with those things in any way, shape or form.”
“I’m not, Sav- I mean, perfect stranger that I TOTALLY didn’t know for most of my life.” We laughed.
“My go…” Daniel said, then “I’m Daniel; I like animals.”
“Nothing else? Like, that surely can’t be the one thing you care about, right?” Eliza said sarcastically.
“Um, as a matter of fact.” He smirked.
“I’m Eliza. I like astronomy, philosophy and…” She struggled, “Breathing. Breathing is fun.”
“Really? Me too. I’m Savannah, and I too enjoy breathing.”
“Breathing is awesome.” Aaron chipped in. I noticed the way he stared at the table, trying not to engage in eye contact with anyone. “Aaron, by the way.”
“And I’m Kayla. I’m a Homo Sapien.”
“Oh, well, you know, that doesn’t defy everything we’ve been taught since birth or anything!” Aaron spluttered.
“You’re wearing it out, bro.” Daniel shook his head.
“Sorry…” Aaron smiled at me, but his eyes looked over my shoulder.
“Um, Kayla?” Juliet asked, concern lacing her voice.
“You know the homo-sapien thing? Well, uh, I read a book about that a while ago…”
Savannah sighed, stretching and unfurling her wings a little. “Books… what else?”
Shaking this off, Juliet rolled her eyes and continued, “You see, HSs and HAs basically live along side each other, in different… dimensions. They always have. I know we’re taught that we live in the same place, but we just can’t see each other. But we don’t. HAs didn’t know about HSs until about a thousand years ago, when we may have accidently…” she quickly cut herself off. “I don’t think I should say.”
“What happened?!” I nearly screamed. Juliet shuddered.
“Okay,” she whispered, “But you can’t tell anyone, and you can’t ask how I know.”
“You have my word.”
“Tell us already!” Savannah yelled.
“We may have accidently… stumbled upon a… portal.”
Juliet was met by a table of blank looks. “Back up.” Daniel ordered.
“A portal… it’s generally something that looks completely man made, but isn’t. One would exist both here and in the HS dimension, and very few people, but people, could travel through it to the other one. The first person was an HA, and when she first discovered this, everyone thought she was mad… Until an HS found himself here – then people started putting two and two together, and, long story short, the HA government knows about this, but nobody else does, other than the ones that travelled.”
“…And you?” Aaron choked.
“Yeah – you can’t ask how I know.” she reminded us.
“I thought you said you read a book.” Savannah said.
“I did. But that’s all you can know.”Juliet folded her arms across her chest.
“If it’s that secret then why did you tell us in the first place?”
She shrugged, “Because I trust you.”
Whoa. Someone I had met just today trusted me with something like that.
We weren’t done yet, though, “And these people, the ones that could travel between the two dimensions are called endeavourers. My friends, Kayla Jeffery.”
“Ah.” left my throat as Juliet, Savannah and Daniel looked at me with raised eyebrows, and the other two looked at Juliet. Everyone else in the room and their shrieks seemed to die out for those few awkward moments.
Until Eliza started giggling, then Daniel smirked at her, then Savannah thrusted her hand at her face in hysterics, and before we knew it, the six of us were in fits of laughter.
Chapter 7 – Cordova, Birch, and an Ultimate Face-Off
When social education (aka. enforced bonding) had finished, Juliet, Savannah, Eliza and I split with the boys to investigate our new boarding house.
“This is so cool!” Eliza exclaimed as we made our way over, “Do you think the beds will be comfy? I wonder how big the dorms are. I wonder if we’ll be in a dorm together! I-”
“Okay! Let’s try and keep the bubbliness to a minimum, if we can.” Savannah laughed.
“It’s fine – just shut up.”
“What you expected?” Juliet beamed up at the red-bricked building that towered above us.
“Well, before today.” I mumbled, “I guess after this morning, I expected it to be a four-story castle guarded by a dragon.” Eliza and Juliet burst into hysterics.
“Oh, that’s the year 8 one.” Savannah said seriously.
Eliza and Juliet laughed harder, Savannah joining them.
“That’s a joke, right?” I asked, realising.
“Hello girls! Come in! Come in!” cried the over-enthusiastic voice of a middle-aged woman standing in the doorway. “I’m Miss Dowson. The dormitory lists are up on the notice board!”
“Thanks…” Savannah said slowly, and lead past the woman. Her skin was covered in short, brown fur.
The corridor erupted the scent of chalk and wax, and we stepped over the blue itchy rug to examine a white piece of paper listing the dorms we’d all be in.
“Okay… okay…” Savannah mused, blocking us out of it. “Eliza, Juliet… You’re together. Your dorm is called Cordova.”
“Cordova? Like, Lizzette Cordova?” Juliet asked.
“Like who?” Savannah frowned.
“Oh. She’s just this- um, this…”
“Let me guess… writer?” Eliza laughed.
“Um… sure…” Juliet stuttered. “This is going to be fun, right, Eliza?” she changed the subject quickly.
“Yeah! Wow, I’m so excited…”
Savannah cut her off before she could go into another excitable rant. “And I’m with you, Kayla.”
“In Birch.” she laughed, “Like, Savannah Birch?”
“Like who?” Juliet teased.
“Your dorm is called Birch? Wow, that’s such a co-incidence!” Eliza exclaimed.
“Yeah. Come on, let’s go unpack!”
“Your bags have been brought up here from your first lesson, girls.” explained Miss Dowson. “They should be in the room opposite the office.”
After wrestling covers onto a top bunk mattress, pinning up photographs on my notice board and hanging up clothes, I heard a high giggle from outside.
“Really? I’m in Birch too!” followed.
Savannah drew in an audible breath on the bed bellow me. “Please don’t say, please don’t say, please don’t say…”
“Don’t say what?” I asked, hopping down from my bed to look at her.
“Ivh ih her?”she muffled, her face thrusted into her bubble-gum blue pillow.
“What?” I whispered.
Savannah lifted her head of the pillow and spat hair out of her face. “Is it her?”
“Who?” I asked, just as Wisteria walked in with two other girls I’d never seen.
“Her.” Savannah whimpered her face back in her pillow. I rolled my eyes.
Wisteria watched us as she shuffled over to one of the four beds still unclothed, the way you watch a spider when you’re trying to co-exist with it. The other two did the same, although I’d never seen them before.
“Savannah…” I whispered irritably.
“Just, uh…” I paused. “Never mind.”
“I didn’t expect you to be in this dorm, Savannah.” Wisteria stated.
“It’s possible.” she replied arrogantly and sat bolt upright, incapable of passing up a scrape with Wisteria.
“Yeah. I know.”
“I dare you to say that again!” she yelled, standing up and marching towards her.
“Savannah, she just said-”
“She meant it offensively!”
Wisteria stood up. “Well, you’d know, wouldn’t you? Anything that’s ever come out of your mouth is offensive.”
“Well, yeah, around you!”
“I see you insult your ‘friends’ as well.”
Savannah looked sort of hurt for a moment, then shook it of faster than she’d acquired it. “I see you USE your ‘subjects’. Which is worse?”
“Clearly if it’s you doing something it’ll be hundreds of times worse than me doing something.”
“Oh, sorry your majesty, I must know my place.” She dropped to her knee.
“I-” Wisteria paused, not sure how to carry it on, “Shut up!”
“Hey, Sav? Kayla?” asked a perky, familiar voice.
“Eliza! You’re interrupting!” Savannah whined.
“Oh, sorry. We were just about to go to supper. You coming?”
“But- I-” Savannah looked around, “Oh, you killed it now anyway.” We joined Eliza and Juliet outside the dormitory.
“Wisteria’s in your dorm?” Juliet squealed, “Wow, I wish I was with you now. You’re in for a good term, Kayla.”
“Yup, you get to stay up listening to their constant rows every night!” Eliza laughed, “It’s more appealing than it sounds, trust me.”
“I guess I’ll have to.” I smiled, “How did you miss her name on the list, Sav?”
“Yeah, if she’s one of your – Eliza, say it with me –”
“Officially Decreed Arch Nemeses.” Juliet and Eliza recited.
“Oh, Sav has a massive list of people she hates, and she refers to them as her ‘Officially Decreed Arch Nemeses.”
“Or ODAN.” Juliet piped. “Frankly, it’s the only time she’ll actually use vocabulary on that level.”
“And how long is this list?” I enquired.
“Thousands long.” Eliza exaggerated (I hope).
“Millions.” Juliet added.
“Not a number.”
“Whatever, Julie. No, Sav, exactly how long is it? Can we prove her wrong? Will it turn out that a gazillion IS a number if you go high enough?”
“Oh, ha ha.” Savannah rolled her eyes, “Remember you’re in debt – I was about to about to have an Ultimate Face-Off with her, but, NO, you interrupt me.”
“She has her ‘Ultimate Face-Off’s pretty much daily.” Juliet explained.